letter to the editor

Reliving Battle of Campbell Station; it should have a commemorated area

On Nov. 16, 1863, forces under the command of Confederate Gen. James Longstreet and Union Gen. Ambrose Burnside fought it out on a field of battle that is now our Town of Farragut.

Unfortunately, most of this battlefield area is now covered by housing and commercial developments. Very little remains to remind us of what occurred here almost 158 years ago.

Gen. Longstreet, with two divisions of infantry and a division of cavalry, had marched up from Chattanooga with the mission of chasing Gen. Burnside’s small army out of Knoxville. Learning that Longstreet was approaching, Burnside moved a portion of his army out to take an advanced defensive position along north side of the Tennessee River at Loudon and established a base camp at Lenoir’s Station (now Lenoir City).

On Nov. 14, Longstreet’s forces commenced crossing the river on a pontoon bridge at Huff’s Ferry, just north of Loudon. Although Burnside had originally planned to oppose the crossing, he now opted to withdraw to his smaller force back to Knoxville.

Abandoning Lenoir’s on the night of the 15th, Burnside’s Federals slogged along the muddy Lenoir Road (which no longer exists) towards Campbell’s Station, where the Lenoir Road intersected with the Kingston Road. (This location is approximately where First Baptist Church Concord now stands.) Longstreet wanted to secure the intersection before Burnside’s troops could arrive, so that he would block their retreat and force the smaller Union force into battle.

To accomplish this, Longstreet sent one of his two infantry divisions through Hotchkiss Valley to the Kingston Road and then east towards Campbell’s Station. He sent his other division to pursue the rear of Burnside’s force on the Lenoir Road.

The first engagement took place on the old Lenoir Road, near what is now the intersection of Evans Road and Virtue Road, when Burnside’s rear guard attempted to delay the head of Longstreet’s pursuing column.

Fortunately for Burnside, the head of his column reached the intersection on Kingston Road first. But he was soon confronted with Longstreet’s other division moving in on him. Burnside promptly deployed his men, and the second engagement occurred as they were attacked from the west.

Burnside held the intersection until all his wagons and artillery had passed through and were moving on towards Knoxville. He then slowly pulled his men back along the Kingston Road, fighting as they went.

Burnside realized that he was going to have to make another stand in order to protect his slow-moving wagons. He found a favorable position on the higher ground just east of Turkey Creek and again deployed for battle against Longstreet’s onslaught. This stand was made along Kingston Road near the intersection of Concord Road. The Federals successfully defended the high ground there as Longstreet’s men attacked across the low-lying bottom land.

As darkness fell over the battlefield, the fighting ceased and the exhausted Confederates lay down in the field to rest. Then, under the cover of darkness, Burnside withdrew his troops on to Knoxville. The Battle of Campbell’s Station had come to an end, leaving about 1,000 casualties.

The area within roughly a half-mile radius of the intersection of present-day Concord Road and Kingston Pike was where Burnside made his last stand in the battle.

This area is now almost fully developed with businesses and homes. Only a few bits of property now remain that retain their historical topography and integrity.

Perhaps we should attempt to secure an appropriate area to commemorate this battle before the opportunity is gone forever.

Dale Green